Weekly unemployment claims edge up, still very low

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Weekly unemployment claims edge up, still very low

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 10:15am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Weekly unemployment numbers edged up last week, but remained under 300 claims. Summer typically brings very low claim levels and these have slipped into fall. Initial claims for the week of September 28, 2019 totaled 249, up 13 from last week and 15 fewer than they were at this time last year.

Altogether 2,069 new and continuing claims were filed, an increase of 34 from a week ago, and 302 fewer than a year ago.

Nationwide, according to the US Labor Department for the week ending September 28, initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose modestly 4,000 to 219,000. This is higher than economists' expectations. The 4-week moving average held at 212,500. After a long decline from the Great Recession in 2009, claims have now generally leveled off over the past year.

For most weeks of 2017 and 2018 claims were lower than the year before, but have been up and down in 2019. This suggests the labor situation has settled after several years of a tighter and tighter labor market following the Great Recession of 10 years ago.

Vermont, like the nation as a whole, has been locked into a historically low period of unemployment and a tight labor market. If this is so, claims for the week and year should look similar to the prior year, as they have the last several months.

For UI claims last week by industry, Services, which typically accounts for most claims, represented 56 percent of all claims. Construction claims were 12 percent for the week. Manufacturing fell from 18 percent to 8 percent.

Vermont's unemployment rate for August was unchanged at 2.1 percent. This is the state's historic low. Vermont's rate is lowest in the nation. SEE STORYThe US rate was 3.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month.


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UI tax rates for employers fell again on July 1, 2018, as claims continue to be lower than previous projections. Individual employers' reduced taxable wage rates will vary according to their experience rating; however, the rate reduction will lower the highest UI tax rate from 7.7 percent to 6.5 percent. The lowest UI tax rate will see a reduction from 1.1 percent to 0.8 percent.

Also effective July 1, 2018, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit will be indexed upwards to 57% of the average weekly wage. The current maximum weekly benefit amount is $466, which will increase to $498. Both changes are directly tied to the change in the Tax Rate Schedule.

Vermont's minimum wage rose to $10.78 on January 1, 2019.

The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/. Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc

NOTE: Employment (nonfarm payroll) - A count of all persons who worked full- or part-time or received pay from a nonagricultural employer for any part of the pay period which included the 12th of the month. Because this count comes from a survey of employers, persons who work for two different companies would be counted twice. Therefore, nonfarm payroll employment is really a count of the number of jobs, rather than the number of persons employed. Persons may receive pay from a job if they are temporarily absent due to illness, bad weather, vacation, or labor-management dispute. This count is based on where the jobs are located, regardless of where the workers reside, and is therefore sometimes referred to as employment "by place of work." Nonfarm payroll employment data are collected and compiled based on the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, conducted by the Vermont Department of Labor. This count was formerly referred to as nonagricultural wage and salary employment.